• Les autorités congolaises rapatrient près de 1.500 Burundais de #Goma

    Les autorités congolaises ont rapatrié près de 1.500 Burundais en situation irrégulière à Goma, dans la province du #Nord-Kivu. Il s’agirait des membres d’une #secte fuyant des exactions dans leur pays d’origine, parmi lesquels il y aurait des personnalités impliquées dans un putsch manqué.

    Le gouverneur du Nord-Kivu, Carly Kasivita Nzanzu, a déclaré à VOA Afrique que « ces Burundais n’avaient pas de statut de réfugiés mais ils ont réussi, à la surprise des autorités, à traverser la province du Sud-Kivu, frontalière avec le Burundi, pour se masser à Goma », chef-lieu de sa province.

    « Ils se réclament d’une secte mystico-religieuse, ’#Ezebya', en conflit avec l’église catholique dont ils sont des dissidents et affirment fuir des exactions », a révélé M. Kasivita.
    « Ce qui a écœuré les habitants de Goma, c’est que ces Burundais soutenaient que la RDC est leur terre promise. Nous avions le devoir de faire respecter les lois de l’immigration car il y a une histoire entre le Congo et ses voisins et nous sommes encore victimes aujourd’hui pour avoir accepté des réfugiés rwandais dans notre pays en 1994 », a expliqué le gouverneur.

    Selon les autorités, le service des migrations les a d’abord ramenés de Goma à Kavivira, post-frontalier entre le Sud-Kivu et le Burundi, et ensuite vers leur pays.

    Selon une dépêche de l’AFP, les services de sécurité congolais auraient identifié des personnalités impliquées dans un coup d’Etat manqué au Burundi.

    « Nous avons reçu beaucoup d’appels du Burundi, des gens qui affirment que leurs enfants ont été amenés de force en RDC, dans ce groupe, par des parents ou des proches, sans leur consentement », a affirmé M. Kasivita.

    Pour certains défenseurs des droits de l’homme, les autorités congolaises devaient quand-même tenir compte du droit humanitaire international pour assurer la protection de ceux de ces Burundais dont la survie dépend d’un asile.

    « Les autorités congolaises devaient examiner leur situation au cas par cas et voir s’il s’avérait que certains ont réellement fui des exactions. Les rapatrier, comme cela a été fait, les met en danger alors que le droit international protège quiconque fuit son pays pour des raisons de survie, » a estimé le coordonnateur du Comité des droits de l’homme et du développement (CODHOD), Henri Christian Longendja.

    L’Est de la RDC connaît une situation instable depuis les années 90 due, entre autres, par la présence de nombreux groupes armés et mouvements rebelles.

    https://www.voaafrique.com/a/pr%C3%A8s-de-1-500-burundais-en-situation-irr%C3%A9guli%C3%A8re-%C3%A0-goma-rapatri%C3%A9s/5332547.html
    #Congo #réfugiés_burundais #RDC #renvois #expulsions

    • La RDC expulse plusieurs centaines de Burundais « en séjour illégal »

      La République démocratique du Congo (RDC) a expulsé mardi plusieurs centaines de Burundais – plus de 1.600 selon des médias locaux – accusés de séjour illégal dans la région de Goma, dans l’est du pays. Après avoir vécu en clandestinité à Goma, le chef-lieu de la province du Nord-Kivu, plus de 1.609 personnes – en majorité des femmes et enfants mais tous de nationalité burundaise – ont été rapatriées mardi vers leur pays d’origine, a indiqué le site d’information LINTERVIEW.CD.

      Cette opération s’est déroulée à Bukavu, chef-lieu de la province voisine du Sud-Kivu où les deux bateaux qui les transportaient ont accosté mardi matin, après une nuit dernière sur le lac Kivu.

      Leur présence à proximité de Goma a été signalée vendredi par les habitants aux autorités congolaises, d’après le ministre provincial de l’Intérieur de Nord-Kivu, Jean Bosco Sebishimbo.

      « Nous avons constaté qu’il y a plus de 1.400 Burundais en séjour irrégulier », a déclaré sur place le gouverneur de la province du Nord-Kivu, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita.

      « Ils se disent réfugiés mais n’ont jamais acquis le statut de réfugié », a-t-il ajouté.

      Les services de sécurité congolais ont identifié « parmi ces immigrés (…) des personnalités impliquées dans un coup d’État manqué au Burundi », a avancé la présidence de la République sans autre précision.

      Ces « immigrés » agissent « sous le label de la secte mystico-religieuse Ezebya, dissidente de l’Eglise catholique burundaise », selon le communiqué de la présidence parvenu à l’AFP.

      Cette secte est en conflit avec l’église catholique « dont ils sont des dissidents et affirment fuir des exactions », selon M. Kasivita.

      Ses membres sont des adeptes de la prophétesse Zebiya, qui assure avoir eu des visions de la Vierge dans le nord du Burundi.​

      https://afrique.lalibre.be/47881/la-rdc-expulse-plusieurs-centaines-de-burundais-en-sejour-illegal

  • The trouble with plans to send 116,000 Burundian refugees home

    Under pressure to go home, Burundian refugees in Tanzania face two bad options: return to face social and economic hardship and possible rights violations; or remain in chronically under-resourced camps that restrict their opportunities.

    With both governments confirming plans to return 116,000 Burundians by the end of 2019, it’s crunch time for the international community if it wants to ensure returns are truly voluntary and offer returnees the level of support they will need to reintegrate properly back in Burundi.

    More than 400,000 people fled Burundi, most into neighbouring Tanzania, following violent unrest and repression that accompanied 2015 elections, which saw former rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza returned to power for a controversial third presidential term.

    Limited repatriations began in 2017, but funding shortages mean the process has so far been little more than an offer of free transport back across the border, with a return package of food, non-food items, and cash that doesn’t even last the three months it’s expected to cover.

    https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/opinion/2019/03/05/Burundian-refugees-Tanzania-plans-send-home
    #retour_au_pays #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Tanzanie #réfugiés_burundais

    Pour les #retours_volontaires initiés en 2017, voir le doc publié par @reka:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/636524
    #retour_volontaire

    • Tanzania wants Burundian refugees sent home. But they face big challenges

      Tanzania says it has reached an agreement with Burundi to begin sending back all Burundian refugees from October. The repatriation effort will take place in collaboration with the United Nations. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Amelia Kuch to give some insights into the decision.

      How many Burundian refugees are there in Tanzania and why did they migrate there?

      Tanzania has long been held up as a safe haven for refugees in the region. There’s a long history of refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique seeking refuge and safety there. Burundians have been seeking refuge in Tanzania since 1960, with major waves of displacement happening in 1972, 1988, 1993, and 2015. This was due to several civil wars and genocidal violence.

      The current displacement crisis started in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in office and eventually won. Street protests led to violent clashes. The growing fear and uncertainty pushed over 400 000 Burundians to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. About 60% of them went to Tanzania.

      Interviews with Burundian refugees revealed that if they were not a member of the leading party they faced violent persecution. They shared personal accounts of torture and rape by the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party, and of disappearances and executions of family members.

      There’s now a total of about 342 867 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania that are mostly settled in three refugee camps: Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli.

      Tanzania had previously granted some Burundian refugees citizenship. Why do you think they’re choosing repatriation now?

      Tanzania offered citizenship, through naturalisation, to 160 000 Burundian refugees. But this only benefited individuals and families who fled to Tanzania in 1972 and were settled in the three rural settlements –- Mishamo, Urambo and Katumba. It didn’t include more recent arrivals.

      As much as the announcement of forced repatriation is troubling, it is not surprising. Over the past 15 years Tanzania has been making moves away from acting as a host country.

      The 2005 election manifesto of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, included a pledge to make Tanzania “refugee-free” by 2010. Their justification was that there wasn’t enough international aid to support the camps and that the camps were having a negative impact on neighbouring host communities and Tanzania’s security situation.

      This has already led to repatriations. In 2012 residents of Mtabila refugee camp, most of whom fled to Tanzania in the 1990s, were returned to Burundi against their will and the camp was closed.

      In 2018, Tanzania pulled out of the UN’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework – a declaration by countries to commit to respect the human rights of refugees and migrants and to support the countries that welcome them – citing a lack of international funding. The Burundian refugee situation is the lowest funded in the world. In 2018, UNHCR and its partners received just 33% of the required US$391 million requested to support Burundian refugees.

      How should the repatriation process happen?

      First and foremost Burundian refugees need to be able to make an informed decision if they wish to repatriate or remain in Tanzania. It must be a voluntary decision. At the moment it seems like refugees won’t be given a choice and will be forced to repatriate. Tanzanian Interior Minister Kangi Lugola announced that Tanzania will return Burundian refugees at the rate of 2 000 people a week.

      Ideally, people should be allowed to travel back to Burundi to assess the situation for themselves and decide, after that initial first-hand experience, if they wish to repatriate voluntarily.

      If they decide to repatriate, they should be given access to land and the ability to re-establish their livelihoods in Burundi. The support might come in the form of a financial grant, basic household items, food items, as well as financial support so they can access shelter and rent land.

      Following repatriation, it’s essential that the safety of refugees is monitored. Repatriation is a political process and it will be necessary to ensure that returnees are protected and can access the same rights as other citizens.

      Monitoring the reintegration of returnees is a UNHCR commitment under the Tripartite Agreement from 2017 and it is critical that journalists and researchers are safe to report on the reintegration process.

      What do the prospects look like for the refugees once they’re back in Burundi?

      Through current and previous research I’ve done on Burundian refugees who repatriated and then returned to Tanzania, I’ve seen a complex matrix of challenges that they face. These include hunger, the inability to access land and shelter, and a shortage of medicine.

      There are also safety concerns. Today the Burundian government controls the political space and refuses to engage in dialogue with opposition parties. While there is less open violence, refugees still fear going back and for some, that’s with good reason.

      With the closing migratory space in Tanzania, those who won’t be able to safely stay in Burundi will have to seek other destinations of refuge.

      What are Tanzania’s international obligations in terms of protection of refugees?

      The 1951 Refugee Convention – whose core principle asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom – has been ratified by 145 states, including Tanzania.

      The Tanzanian government’s decision to repatriate Burundian refugees, despite evidence that their life and freedom might be threatened in Burundi, breaches the core principle of non-refoulement.

      This, however, must be seen in the global context. The decision of the Tanzanian government to expel refugees is not happening in a political void. Rather, it emulates the policies implemented by some Western countries, including the US, Australia, France, Hungary and Italy.

      These countries are also breaching the Convention; by obstructing refugees from coming, putting their lives in danger and even penalising those who try to assist refugees.

      Rather than an exception, the recent decision by the Tanzanian government to forcefully repatriate Burundian refugees is a reflection of a growing, global hostility towards refugees and other migrants.

      https://theconversation.com/tanzania-wants-burundian-refugees-sent-home-but-they-face-big-chall

    • Tanzania to send back all Burundian refugees from October

      Tanzanian and Burundian officials announce deal but UNHCR says Burundi conditions are not conducive to promote returns.

      Tanzania says it has reached an agreement with neighbouring Burundi to begin sending back all Burundian refugees from October, adding that the repatriation will take place in collaboration with the United Nations.

      However, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday that the conditions in Burundi, which was plunged into a political crisis four years ago, are not “conducive to promote returns” and noted that it is assisting refugees who indicate they have made a voluntary choice to return home.

      Hundreds of people were killed and more than 400,000 fled to neighbouring countries due to violence the UN says was mostly carried out by state security forces following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision in April 2015 to run for a third, disputed, term in office.

      Nkurunziza won re-election and, the following year, Burundi suspended all cooperation with the UN human rights office in the country after a UN-commissioned report accused the Bujumbura government and its supporters of being responsible for crimes against humanity.

      Currently, some 200,000 Burundians are in Tanzania, according to government figures.

      Speaking to the AFP news agency, Tanzanian Interior Minister Kangi Lugola said: “In agreement with the Burundian government and in collaboration with the High Commissioner for Refugees, we will start the repatriation of all Burundian refugees on October 1.”

      “Under this agreement, it will be 2,000 refugees who will be repatriated every week until there are no more Burundian refugees in Tanzania,” he said.
      ’Returns should be voluntary’

      Lugola said that Burundi is currently at peace, adding that he had “information whereby people, international organisations, are deceiving people, telling them there is no peace in Burundi”.

      He was speaking after he and Burundian Interior Minister Pascal Barandagiye on Sunday visited a camp where they annouced the return to the refugees themselves.

      In an emailed statement to Al Jazeera, Dana Hughes, the UNHCR spokesperson for East Horn and Great Lakes, said around 75,000 Burundians had returned home in the past two years. She added, however, that hundreds still flee Burundi each month and urged governments in the region to maintain open borders and access to asylum for those who need it.

      UNHCR also called upon the governments of Tanzania and Burundi “to uphold international obligations and ensure that any returns are voluntary in line with the tripartite agreement signed in March of 2018”, referring to a deal covering refugees who wish to return on a voluntary basis.

      “The UNHCR urges states to ensure that no refugee is returned to Burundi against their will, and that measures are taken to make conditions in Burundi more conducive for refugees returns, including confidence-building efforts and incentives for those who have chosen to go home,” Hughes said.

      One Burundian refugee, a man in his 40s who crossed over with his family and now lives in Tanzania’s Nduta camp, said he would not be returning home.

      “We heard that the governments agreed on forced repatriation ... There is no way we can go to Burundi, there is no security there at all,” the man, who declined to be named, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

      Human Rights Watch says Burundi’s government does not tolerate criticism, and security services carry out summary executions, rapes, abductions and intimidation of suspected political opponents.

      Burundi’s ruling party denies it carries out systematic human rights violations.

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/tanzania-send-burundian-refugees-october-190827180318193.html

    • Tanzania begins repatriating Burundian refugees

      Tanzania and Burundi agree to facilitate voluntary repatriation of refugees by the end of 2019.

      Tanzania on Thursday began repatriating 1000 Burundians, who had taken refuge in 2015, following political violence and instability in their country.

      “Today [Thursday] we are repatriating 1000 refugees with all their belongings. All international organizations are aware of this operation,” Director of Information Services and Government Spokesperson, Hassan Abbasi told reporters.

      In April 2015 protests broke out in the landlocked East African country Burundi, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term in office. A coup attempt failed to dislodge him, leading to a clamp down and arrests. Over 300,000 people left the country, causing a humanitarian crisis.

      In August, Tanzania and Burundi agreed to repatriate all the refugees peacefully to their homes, by the end of 2019. The mass repatriation was supposed to commence from Oct.1.

      Reports said that the first batch of 1000 refugees were transported by buses to Gisuru transit center in eastern Burundi, where they stayed overnight.

      According to officials, they will be transported to their home districts along with rations, that will sustain them for three months.

      Abbasi said the Tanzanian government and the international agencies will ensure the refugees are at peace in their country.

      The UN High Commission for Refugees has asked Tanzania’s government to avoid forceful repatriation of refugees.

      “While an overall security has improved, UNHCR is of the opinion that conditions in Burundi are not currently conducive to promote returns,” the UN agency responsible for the welfare for refugees said in a statement in August.

      However, Abbasi emphasized that repatriation is voluntary. “All those refugees, leaving camps were eager to go home,” he said.

      He stressed that Tanzania respects international agreements on refugees and would ensure the repatriation process takes place well within international humanitarian laws.

      Nestor Bimenyimana, the director general of repatriation and rehabilitation department in Burundi’s Home Ministry told local media that the UNHCR is involved in the identification and registration of Burundian refugees, willing to be repatriated from Tanzania.

      “We don’t force anyone to register,” he said.

      According to the UN agency, as many as 343,000 refugees, were living in the neighboring countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda as of August 2019.

      Over past two years, refugee agency has facilitated repatriation of 74,600 refugees to their homes in Burundi.

      https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/tanzania-begins-repatriating-burundian-refugees/1602122

    • Tanzania: Burundians Pressured into Leaving

      Mounting Intimidation for 163,000 Burundian Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

      The fear of violence, arrest, and deportation is driving many of the 163,000 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania out of the country. Tanzanian authorities have also made it very difficult for the United Nations refugee agency to properly check whether hundreds of refugees’ recent decision to return to Burundi was voluntary.

      In October and November 2019, Tanzanian officials specifically targeted parts of the Burundian refugee population whose insecure legal status and lack of access to aid make them particularly vulnerable to coerced return to Burundi. The actions come after the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, said on October 11 that Burundian refugees should “go home.”

      “Refugees say police abuses, insecurity in Tanzania’s refugee camps, and deportation threats drove them out of the country,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Tanzania should reverse course before it ends up unlawfully coercing thousands more to leave.”

      In mid-November, Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 Burundian refugees in Uganda who described the pressure that caused them to leave Tanzania between August 2018 and October 2019. Seven returned to Burundi but said they then fled to Uganda to escape members of the Burundian ruling party’s youth league, the Imbonerakure, who threatened, intimidated, or arbitrarily arrested them. Thirteen went directly to Uganda.

      Refugees said their reasons for leaving Tanzania include fear of getting caught up in a spate of arrests, and alleged disappearances and killings in or near refugee camps and fear of suspected members of the Imbonerakure and of abusive Burundian refugees working with Tanzanian police on camp security. They also cited the government’s threats to deport Burundian refugees, the closing and destruction of markets, restrictions on commercial activities, and lack of access to services in the camps and freedom of movement.

      On December 3, Tanzanian Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola denied that the government is “expelling” refugees, and said the Tanzanian and Burundian authorities “merely mobilize, to encourage those who are ready to return on their own accord, to go back.”

      A refugee who returned from Tanzania to Burundi in August said: “I returned to Burundi because the Tanzanian authorities said those staying would be forced back… The police became increasingly violent and insecurity was the main reason I decided to return.” In late August, Imbonerakure members targeted him: “They arrested me, tied my arms behind my back and said, ‘you said you fled [Burundi] because of the Imbonerakure, but we are still here.’” He said his wife paid a bribe for his release and he fled to Uganda.

      A December 6 Human Rights Watch report documented widespread abuses by members of the youth league, often working with local Burundian administrators. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in August that conditions in Burundi were not safe or stable enough for it to encourage refugees to return, and that it would only facilitate voluntary returns.

      The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 African Refugee Convention prohibit refoulement, the return of refugees in any manner whatsoever to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. UNHCR says that refoulement occurs not only when a government directly rejects or expels a refugee, but also when indirect pressure is so intense that it leads people to believe they have no option but to return to a country where they face a serious risk of harm.

      Between September 2017 and end of October 2019, 78,380 Burundians – about 725 a week – left Tanzania under an agreement between Burundi, Tanzania, and the UNHCR, which tasks UNHCR with conducting detailed interviews with refugees to ensure they are leaving Tanzania voluntarily. The number is well below the target of 2,000 a week Tanzania and Burundi agreed on in March 2018. An August 24, 2019 agreement between Tanzania and Burundi says all the refugees “are to return to their country of origin whether voluntarily or not” by December 31.

      On November 9, UNHCR said that some Burundians signing up for voluntary return with UNHCR had “cited insecurity in refugee camps, fear of enforced return …, deteriorating living conditions …, prohibition of small commercial activities and closure of camp markets as the main reasons for their return.” The agency previously told Human Rights Watch that “push factors play a significant role” in refugees’ return decision, but that UNHCR considers their return to be voluntary because they have “made an informed decision” and “many other refugees” have decided to stay.

      A government’s duty to protect refugee rights should not be assessed based on statistics but on a case-by-case basis, Human Rights Watch said. The fact that some or many refugees can stay in a host country is not evidence that those who leave do so voluntarily or that they did not leave due to coercion.

      Seven of the refugees Human Rights Watch interviewed said they returned to Burundi between March 2018 and June 2019. One refugee who left Tanzania’s Nduta camp for Uganda in August said he had helped many families register for return to Burundi: “Before August 2018, UNHCR asked people who registered many questions about their decision to return and gave them time to change their minds,” he said. “But now they don’t give time to think or ask questions. They immediately process people for return.”

      UNHCR’s mandate requires it to ask refugees signing up for voluntary return about the reasons behind the decision to ensure the decision is truly voluntary.

      A well-informed source said that after a recent “validation exercise” to verify the number of registered and unregistered Burundians living in camps in Tanzania, about 3,300 people were registered but not given “active status,” which means they have no clear legal status or access to assistance, and are particularly vulnerable to government intimidation and coerced return to Burundi.

      In October, the Tanzanian authorities summoned these people and registered “hundreds” who said they wanted to return to Burundi. The authorities told them to report to a departure center, leaving UNHCR, which usually speaks to people leaving a few days beforehand to make sure they are leaving voluntarily, to conduct some interviews at the departure center “in less than ideal circumstances,” it said.

      Human Rights Watch previously reported on the coerced return of hundreds of Burundian asylum seekers on October 15, after camp authorities said that if they did not register to return, they would be in the camps without legal status and aid.

      In late October, UNHCR said Tanzania was increasing “pressure on Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers to return home.” In the second week of November, Tanzanian authorities banned 10 UNHCR staff involved in managing the refugee registration database from the camp.

      Tanzanian authorities should ensure that UNHCR staff are able to properly verify the voluntary nature of refugees’ decision to return to Burundi, Human Rights Watch said. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union should send a team to visit the refugee camps and urge Tanzania not to directly or indirectly forcibly return asylum seekers or refugees.

      “The African Union should publicly press the Tanzanian authorities to stop trying to bully refugees and the UN into submission,” Frelick said. “Tanzania claims it isn’t doing anything wrong, but Burundian refugees are telling us in clear terms that they are being driven out of the country.”

      Factors Driving Burundian Refugees out of Tanzania

      Twenty Burundian refugees formerly living in three camps – Nduta, Nyarugusu, and Mtendeli – in Tanzania’s northwestern Kigoma region spoke with Human Rights Watch in Uganda in November.

      Tanzanian Deadline; Memories of 2012 Forced Return

      All 20 said they left due to Tanzanian officials’ statements that Burundian refugees should go home. Some said that the combination of Burundian and Tanzanian officials telling refugees to go home, and refugees’ memories of Tanzanian forced refugee return in 2012 had created a climate in which they felt they had no choice but to leave Tanzania.

      Thirteen who went directly to Uganda said they feared for their lives if forced to return to Burundi. Many said they knew other refugees who had returned to Burundi only to flee again to Tanzania to escape ongoing insecurity in Burundi.

      Ten left the camps between August and October, with most citing increased pressure at that time. On August 24, Burundi and Tanzania signed an agreement to ensure that all Burundian refugees would leave Tanzania by the end of 2019. Both countries’ interior ministers jointly visited the camps the following day and said returns would start on October 1.

      A 40-year-old woman said: “I decided to leave the camp when the authorities said they would start sending people back on October 1 and that they didn’t want any more refugees in Tanzania. During the meeting, [the authorities] said they had agreed with the Burundian government to repatriate us. That’s why I left.” She left for Uganda on foot with her young child on September 10. She spent a night in a local family’s compound but became frightened that Tanzanian authorities would catch her and ran away, leaving all her belongings behind.

      Many refugees said they feared Tanzanian officials’ threatening language would turn into forced return. Several cited camp authorities’ phrases such as, “The last cow of the herd is always beaten” or “the cows that go to the trough first drink clean water, those that go last get the dirty water,” which they interpreted as saying that those who do not leave the camp now may be beaten or left without a return support package.

      A refugee who left Mtendeli camp in October said: “Tanzanian authorities intimidated people to make them sign up for repatriation. They said otherwise they would use force and we wouldn’t even have time to collect our belongings or get any assistance. People were afraid, so they registered [to return].”

      Tanzania has hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past few decades and offered citizenship to tens of thousands who had been in the country since 1972. But the country also has a troubling history of forced return. After the forced return of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in 1996, Tanzania began in 2006 to reduce the number of what it termed “illegal immigrants” by violently expelling thousands of registered Rwandan and Burundian refugees.

      In June 2009, Tanzanian authorities announced the closure of a camp sheltering more than 37,000 Burundian refugees, at Mtabila. Pressure mounted until the camp was closed in December 2012. Some refugees in Uganda said that they had been in Mtabila camp in late 2012 when Tanzanian authorities forced people into returning to Burundi and that they were afraid the Tanzanian authorities would use similar tactics again.

      A refugee leader from Nduta camp said he was summoned to a meeting with Tanzanian authorities on March 14, where refugees were asked: “Do you remember what happened in Mtabila? Our guns still work, you know. Burundi and Tanzania are one country.” A 25-year-old woman who left Tanzania for Uganda in August said: “I left because of what happened in Mtabila. I didn’t want to be forced back while there is insecurity in Burundi.”

      Fear of Insecurity in and Around Refugee Camps

      Most of the refugees said growing insecurity in the camps contributed to their decision to leave Tanzania.

      All said they feared the Tanzanian police, who they believe work closely with the Burundian authorities to encourage refugees to return. Fourteen also said they were afraid of Burundian refugees in charge of refugee camp security, called “Sungu Sungu,” a term used to describe neighborhood militias in Tanzania. Refugees, including a former Sungu Sungu member, and an independent well-informed source in the camps said that Tanzanian police approve the appointment of the most senior Sungu Sungu representatives in the camps, some of whom refugees believed to be Imbonerakure.

      Refugees said Sungu Sungu members had arrested refugees and helped Tanzanian authorities carry out what some called “mobilization efforts” to encourage their return.

      One interviewee said: “In the camps, they [Sungu Sungu members] targeted the [political] opposition, arrested people at night, confiscated phones and demanded bribes. They organized meetings to tell people to return, and said if we don’t return voluntarily, we will be forced back.”

      Some refugees said that Sungu Sungu members came to the houses of those who had registered for return, but had failed to show up on the day of the return convoy, and told people to leave Tanzania, but Human Rights Watch was not able to independently verify these allegations.

      One refugee said he knew four Sungu Sungu members in Nyarugusu camp who were also Imbonerakure members in his home commune in Burundi. He said: “If a normal refugee comes home after 8 p.m., it’s fine, but if an opposition member goes home after 8 p.m., he’s beaten and made to pay a fine of up to 10.000 Shillings (US$4.3).”

      Human Rights Watch independently verified the identity of the four men, as well as that of three other Imbonerakure members in Nduta camp, with a well-informed source in Burundi, who confirmed that at least five of the seven men were Imbonerakure members who either had ties with Tanzania or who had left their home communes in Cankuzo, Ruyigi, Karuzi, and Makamba provinces in Burundi.

      Thirteen interviewees said they had heard of killings, disappearances, and arrests of Burundians in and around Tanzania’s refugee camps since 2018, including when refugees left the camps to look for firewood. The resulting climate of fear and suspicion triggered their decision to leave.

      A 44-year-old man said: “After the August agreement … arrests increased. There were new ones every day. The camp authorities said they wanted to close the camps and that we had to register to go back.” A well-informed source confirmed that reports of disappearances and arrests by Tanzanian police have increased since August. Refugees also said that they believe Tanzanian authorities arrested people suspected of opposing their refugee-return “mobilization efforts.”

      Market Closures; Other Restrictions

      Most refugees said that restrictions that led to market closures, a ban on motorbikes and bicycles, and restrictions on access to services and commercial activities in the camps convinced them that Tanzanian authorities were planning to close the camps. Several also said that police and Sungu Sungu members prevented refugees from moving around the camps at night and prohibited refugees from listening to radio broadcasts by Burundian exiles.

      One refugee who was repatriated to Burundi in August 2018 said: “I didn’t want to leave but they put us in an untenable situation… [The Sungu Sungu] forbade us from listening to the radio and beat us if they found us out after 7 p.m. They worked with the Tanzania police, which collaborates with the Burundian police.”

      “In August, camp authorities closed Nduta camp market,” a 25-year-old woman who left Tanzania in August said. “This meant we had to survive on food rations, as we couldn’t buy vegetables and other small things in the camps anymore.”

      A 35-year-old carpenter, who left Tanzania for Uganda with his wife and four children on September 24 said: “Something changed after August 2019. Assistance for building houses or education programs were suspended. Aid for refugees definitely diminished.”

      Although these restrictions were added incrementally, refugees said that in August they became more severe. One refugee said: “After August, things changed. Markets inside and outside the camps were closed. The camp authorities said it would continue this way until all infrastructure is closed down.”

      Increasing Pressure on Certain Groups

      Human Rights Watch research indicates that as of October 31, there were about 151,000 registered refugees living in Tanzania’s camps together with 12,000 registered asylum seekers who were waiting for the Tanzanian authorities to decide on their individual asylum applications. In their August agreement, the Tanzanian and Burundian authorities erroneously referred to the 12,000 as “illegal migrants.”

      The source said that a recent “validation exercise” in the camps also identified about 2,800 Burundians who arrived in the camps after January 2018, when the Tanzanian authorities stopped registering asylum seekers. The authorities registered their presence in October, but refused to give them “active status,” leaving them without clear legal status and assistance.

      The source said that the exercise also identified and registered the presence of another 500 people whose refugee or asylum seeker status had been deactivated by UNHCR after they failed to show up for three consecutive food distributions, indicating they had left, but who had subsequently returned to the camps. As of early December, hundreds of them remain in the camp without “active status” or assistance.

      In October, sources in the camps said Tanzanian authorities posted lists in the camps of people without active legal status and access to assistance, saying they should report to Home Affairs Ministry officials in the camps. Hundreds did and signed up to return to Burundi. Tanzanian authorities did not follow standard procedure, requiring them to report to UNHCR to verify the Burundians were leaving Tanzania voluntarily. Instead, the authorities told them to report to Nduta camp’s departure center, where returning refugees go with all their belongings ahead of their scheduled return to Burundi. UNHCR said they had to conduct some voluntariness interviews at the departure center “in less than ideal circumstances.”

      UNHCR’s Handbook on Voluntary Repatriation says that “registration for repatriation should not be viewed as a merely clerical task” and that staff should “interview…the potential repatriates to obtain … relevant information, counselling them on issues of concern, answering questions on repatriation related issues [and] assessing vulnerability.”

      The source said that between September 2017 and mid-November 2019, about 10,500 refugees signed up for voluntary return to Burundi but then decided to stay in Tanzania. They informed UNHCR, which took them off the agency’s “pending departure” list.

      Nonetheless, in early October, the Tanzanian authorities posted a list of names in the camps of about 4,000 refugees who had signed up for return but had not shown up on the departure date and summoned them to Home Affairs Ministry representatives in the camps. A few hundred responded and said they wanted to return to Burundi and left in October and November. The rest remain in the camps.

      Returning Refugees Fleeing Burundi Again

      In its September report, the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said that “serious human rights violations – including crimes against humanity – have continued…across the country” and that the targets were real and suspected opposition supporters, including Burundians who had returned from abroad.

      Seven refugees said they had returned to Burundi between March 2018 and August 2019 under the voluntary repatriation program. Four said that members of the Imbonerakure had stolen the money and goods they had received from UNHCR, which include 70,000 Burundian Francs ($37), perishable goods, and cooking and other utensils. All said they left Burundi for Uganda to escape insecurity in Burundi.

      A man who returned to Burundi on September 27, 2018 and left again for Uganda one year later, described the challenges returning refugees face in Burundi:

      The Imbonerakure said we were ibipinga [a pejorative Kirundi expression to designate those who are against the party] and that we would pay for it in [the] 2020 [elections]. When they saw us at the market, they made us pay more. In July, August, and September [2019], CNDD-FDD [ruling party] members forced us to pay contributions for the elections and the ruling party. The Imbonerakure monitored our houses, especially if they suspected people might try and flee, and said they were going to kill us. The [local] authorities made me sign up to become a member of the ruling party... I thought I would be killed.

      Several interviewees said Imbonerakure members accused them of joining rebel groups abroad and threatened to arrest them. One person said that Imbonerakure members beat people trying to get goods at distributions by aid agencies and prevented people from getting food. He said he was forced to give up much of the repatriation-assistance money he had received from UNHCR:

      Of the 70,000 Francs I received [from UNHCR], I had to give 10,000 ($5.3) to the communal counsellor, 5,000 ($2.6) to the hill-level authorities, and 3,000 ($1.6) to the local Imbonerakure chief. Then, whenever an Imbonerakure came to my house, I had to give them 1,000 Francs ($0.5) …The Imbonerakure said they were going to kill me because I didn’t tell them how rebel groups were planning on attacking Burundi. They said they would cut my head off. I was afraid and decided to leave without any belongings – if the Imbonerakure suspected I was fleeing; they would have prevented me from crossing the border.

      An interviewee who returned to Burundi in August said Imbonerakure members arrested and accused him of denouncing Imbonerakure abuses while he was abroad. He said his wife had to sell all the goods they had received from UNHCR in Tanzania to pay for his release, and they both fled the country later the same month.

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/12/12/tanzania-burundians-pressured-leaving

  • Lessons from Tanzania’s Historic Bid to Turn Refugees to Citizens

    Tanzania was lauded for offering citizenship to 200,000 Burundians, the largest-ever mass naturalization of refugees. But a political stalemate emerged between humanitarians and the government, leaving refugees stuck in the middle, explains researcher Amelia Kuch.

    During Europe’s so-called migrant crisis of 2015, the Tanzanian government gave over 200,000 Burundian refugees a choice between repatriation – returning to Burundi – and naturalization – obtaining Tanzanian citizenship.

    Given the choice, 79 percent of the refugees – 171,600 people – opted for Tanzanian citizenship. It is understood to be the first time in history any state has naturalized such a large group of refugees under the protection of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in a single move.

    This group of refugees had fled Burundi following ethnic violence and killings in 1972 and now live in three rural settlements in Tanzania: Katumba, Mishamo and Ulyankulu. Since the 1970s, these settlements had transformed into towns: People made improvements to their homes, electricity poles were laid out and the local markets began to expand.

    Research has shown that access to citizenship is an important means of resolving long-term displacement. Yet in most countries, granting citizenship to refugees is still politically unthinkable.

    Tanzania has long been held up as a safe haven for refugees in the region, giving shelter to some 315,000 mainly Burundian and Congolese refugees. The naturalization of Burundian refugees was hailed as a model for progressive solutions to displacement. Yet it has led to a political stalemate between humanitarian organizations and the government, with the “refugees-turned-citizens” stuck in the middle.

    Last month, the Tanzanian government halted the naturalization of another group of more recently arrived Burundian refugees and has since pulled out of the U.N.’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, citing lack of international funding.

    During my research in the former Burundian refugee camps in Western Tanzania since 2014, I have spoken with many former refugees about the naturalization process, as well as NGO employees and government officials.

    The difficulties in Tanzania are important to understanding the challenges of mass naturalization. It is not easy to turn a camp of refugees into a settlement of citizens. They also demonstrate how important it is for refugees to be able to hold both governments and humanitarian organizations accountable when things go wrong.
    A Progressive Solution is Born

    Negotiations around Tanzania’s naturalization policy began in 2007. They resulted in the Tanzania Comprehensive Solution Strategy (TANCOSS), which was adopted that year by the governments of Tanzania and Burundi in partnership with UNHCR. The agreement had three pillars: repatriation to Burundi, granting citizenship to those who opted to pursue naturalization and relocation of naturalized refugees from the settlements to other regions of Tanzania.

    Major investments were promised to facilitate the process. Some $103 million was earmarked for relocation and integration of naturalized refugees in the 2011-15 United Nations Development Assistant Plan (UNDAP).

    Eventually, the resettlement pillar was abandoned because of logistical problems and local resistance to resettling refugees. As a result, the new citizens were permitted to remain in the areas of the settlements in which they had lived for the past four decades. They can now vote in national elections and join political parties.

    “Obtaining citizenship and being allowed to stay here brought peace into my heart. Before I lived in fear,” said one former refugee named Daniel.
    Left in Limbo

    Yet the initial TANCOSS agreement did not include any detailed plans for the refugee settlements after the naturalization of their residents. As a consequence, today the area remains in a governance limbo.

    Every refugee camp had a settlement officer who represented the Ministry of Home Affairs and was responsible for governing the area. Settlement officers remain in power in all three settlements, and they continue to act as the highest authority and arbiters of conflicts.

    “Naturalization certificates are important because they allow us to move, but opening of this space is crucial and still needs to happen,” said one church leader in Ulyankulu, referring to the full integration of the settlements. “As long as we still have a settlement officer and a closed space, the process is not complete.”

    It remains unclear when and how a transition to local governance will take place and what rights to the land the new citizens have. The Tanzania Strategy for Local Integration Program for the New Citizens (TANSPLI), drafted in 2016, stipulates the creation of a master land use plan for the settlements and the surrounding areas, followed by the registration of villages in each settlement and provision of documentation for land rights.

    However, the timeline for implementation is unclear. It “hinges on the availability of funding for the planned development projects,” according to Suleiman Mziray, who is assistant director of refugee services at Ministry of Home Affairs.

    “People here don’t have ownership, you can be taken off your land at any time,” said one elderly man from Kaswa village in Ulyankulu settlement. “It’s like a marriage with no certificate.”
    Lack of Accountability

    Some of these challenges have led to a political stalemate between humanitarian organizations and the government, with each claiming the other has not kept its promises. Meanwhile, residents of the settlements suffer the consequences, as they wait for citizenship documents and investment in infrastructure like access to clean water.

    Due to major delays in the distribution of citizenship certificates by the government, international funding for the promised development projects was redirected to other emergencies. Some of the aid was initially meant for resettlement, so once the refugees were allowed to stay in the former camps, funds were reallocated. Now that they are no longer refugees but citizens, they fall into a responsibility gap. “We have done our part,” a UNHCR official told me on condition of anonymity.

    On the other side is the Tanzanian government: frustrated and disillusioned. They say they were promised that major investments will follow the distribution of citizenship but they never arrived. “We kept our part of the deal and distributed citizenship. But none of the promises materialized,” said an official at the Ministry of Home Affairs.

    The government says it does not intend to invest in the settlements for now, as they are still hoping that international funding might come through eventually.

    Earlier agreements left it ambiguous who would be responsible for implementing the administrative, developmental and social programs that were designed to turn former refugee settlements into properly integrated towns and villages. Without accountability mechanisms, it is hard for former refugees to hold humanitarian organizations or the government to their initial promises.
    Three Lessons from Tanzania

    Clearly, the design and implementation of the naturalization policy was far from perfect. The experience of Tanzania offers a few important lessons.

    First, if similar mass naturalization policies are to be implemented elsewhere, it is key that they are drafted as binding documents, where the parties dedicated to the process (both national governments and international organizations) can be held accountable if they do not deliver on the promises and commitments made within an agreed timeline.

    Second, such policies should be more carefully drafted, incorporating provisions on post-naturalization arrangements regarding local governance and land ownership.

    Finally, despite the pitfalls and unforeseen challenges, my interviews with former refugees shows that naturalization is very important to them. They are acutely aware that citizenship is not a panacea, but firmly maintain that access to legal status provides them with a sense of security and the right to remain in the country, allaying fears of forced repatriation and deportation.

    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/02/22/lessons-from-tanzanias-historic-bid-to-turn-refugees-to-citizens?platfor
    #naturalisation #citoyenneté #nationalité #modèle_tanzanien #Tanzanie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_burundais

    v. aussi le #modèle_ougandais qui donne un lopin de terre aux réfugiés

  • Burundian Refugees Face a Difficult Choice: Stay in Overburdened Camps or Return to Uncertainty · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2017/10/10/burundian-refugees-face-a-difficult-choice-stay-in-overburdened-camps-

    On 7 September a convoy of 301 refugees from Nduta camp in Tanzania drove back into Burundi, with more Burundians following days after. Overall, 12,000 are registered to voluntarily return this year. While not the first returnees, the number is large; and their journey back is organized by Burundi and Tanzania’s governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    However, the crisis, sparked by 2015 election turmoil, that led so many Burundians to flee is far from resolved. While some refugees, impatient with waiting to return, held sit-ins in Tanzania to demand the process be sped up, many others fear going back.

    #réfugiés #burundi

  • RDC : la peur des #réfugiés_burundais dans le camp de #Lusenda

    Suite de notre série de reportages en République démocratique du Congo. Cette fois, notre journaliste Simon Rodier nous fait découvrir le quotidien des réfugiés burundais du camp de Lusenda, dans la province du sud-Kivu, entre rationnement alimentaire et menaces de représailles des Imbonerakure, les miliciens pro-régime burundais.

    http://information.tv5monde.com/info/rdc-la-peur-des-refugies-burundais-dans-le-camp-de-lusenda-169
    #violence #camps_de_réfugiés #asile #migrations #réfugiés #RDC #république_démocratique_du_congo #peur

  • Burundi’s Refugee Crisis Propelled by Injustice and Broken Promises

    The recent crisis in Burundi has reversed a major effort to repatriate Burundian refugees in the past decade. Lucy Hovil outlines her new research for the International Refugee Rights Initiative showing that the roots of the current displacement lie partly in the failure to reintegrate returning refugees.


    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2016/12/08/burundis-refugee-crisis-propelled-by-injustice-and-broken-promises
    #Burundi #asile #migrations #réfugiés #intégration #retour_au_pays

  • ONU | Un an après le début de la crise, les Burundais continuent de fuir le pays, selon le HCR
    http://asile.ch/2016/04/24/onu-un-an-apres-le-debut-de-la-crise-les-burundais-continuent-de-fuir-le-pays-

    Un an après le début de la crise au Burundi, près de 260’000 personnes ont fui vers les pays voisins et des milliers d’autres pourraient les rejoindre d’ici la fin de l’année si une solution politique n’est pas trouvée pour éviter une guerre civile, a déclaré vendredi le Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés […]